Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Reading the Awards

I posted some thoughts about the Youth Media Awards over at my LiveJournal site ( but wanted to add some thoughts here as well. I downloaded BREAKING STALIN'S NOSE, one of the Newbery Honor Books, to my Kindle yesterday. Last night I sat and read it from cover to cover (OK, we will have to come up with some new terminology for reading eBooks). I already loved the Newbery Committee for selecting DEAD END IN NORVELT for their winning title. My level of respect and love zoomed even higher after reading this honor book.

Today I plan to read JASPER JONES, one of the Printz Honor Books. Since I spent most of 2011 reading debut novels, I set some other books aside for after awards time. I have read about 50 pages and am in LOVE. Wow, what an opening. I am highlighting passages right, left, and sideways (also on the Kindle). I cannot wait to get back to the book after I finish some of the items on my TO-DO list.

The committees do incredible work.They are then subjected to the criticism which inevitably follows. I missed seeing some of my favorite books on the lists. But as I read the rest of the winners, I see immediately the insight of the committees: they selected books that are literary, strong, and much more. Does that mean there are not more books out there worthy of honor, worthy of reading? Nope, not at all. What it means is that there is a process for selecting the winning title and honor books (or for the selection lists for including some titles and not others). Books are pored over multiple times. Some books rise to the top and supplant other titles.

The year I was on Printz (GOING BOVINE was our winning title), I kept a short stack on the table next to me all the time. That stack included the 5 titles I thought should be our winning and honor titles. If I read a book I thought I wanted to place in the stack, that meant one title had to be eliminated. Yikes, was that tough. I did the same things last year with Excellence in Nonfiction and this year with the Morris Committee. Some of the shuffling in the stack of 5 was downright painful. I am so happy this year to see some of the books I had to surrender make it to Quick Picks and Best Fiction for Young Adults and the other lists. But even if they did not make other lists, they are still some of my favorite books from the year. I will talk about them in workshops and classes and have talked about there here online as well.

So, one more time: BRAVO committees. I am slowly working my way through the books that escaped my attention. I am so psyched that I will be able to hear the speeches from the winners at ALA in Anaheim. Most of all, I am thrilled as a reader and a lover of books to see others who share my passion.

No comments:

Post a Comment